As Chicago Cubs team president Theo Epstein reflected on his decision to trade Alfonso Soriano to the New York Yankees, now is as good a time as ever to analyze that deal as the two teams prepare to square off this week.
According to ESPNChicago.com staff, Epstein believes the trade worked out for both teams:
"It looks like a deal that worked out for both sides," Epstein told ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers on Monday, the day before the Cubs and Yankees were rained out in the Bronx. The teams will play a doubleheader Wednesday.
"He had a no-trade clause and the Yankees were a team he felt comfortable with. We were in talks for a while. They said no to all the players [we asked for], including Corey Black. And then eventually they said they would do Black."
Most importantly for New York, the majority of Soriano's money was picked up by Chicago, thus giving the Yanks a relatively inexpensive option to go to.
At the time the deal was made last July, the Yanks were in desperate need of some offensive punch with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez all missing significant time during the season while the Yanks remained in the playoff hunt.
Soriano was just what the doctor ordered as it seemed the former Yankee was resurgent in his return to the Bronx and he nearly helped his team make the playoffs.
For the Yanks, Soriano belted 17 homers and knocked in 50 runs while hitting to a .256 average in 58 games played. Those numbers were remarkable in a way considering he had nearly identical numbers (17 homers, 51 RBI and a .254 average) with the Cubs in 93 games.
His presence on the roster this season enabled the Yanks to easily let Curtis Granderson walk as it was clear Soriano could replace his bat in the lineup, along with some of the other Yankee signings.
Sori has started off this season with three homers and four RBI, sporting a .222 average. By comparison, Granderson has one homer and four RBI, and he's on the interstate with a .170 mark.
It remains to be seen just how much Sori has left in the tank, but we didn't see a slowdown from the 38-year-old last season so there's no reason to suspect that will happen in 2014.
Until it does, Soriano should be viewed as a 25-homer, 100 RBI hitter in the middle of a more potent Yankees lineup, and that's exactly why he was brought back in the first place.
On the flip side, the Yanks had to give up pitcher Cory Black. Black went 4-0 in Single-A after the deal last season and currently owns a 2.57 ERA in seven innings pitched (one start) in Double-A in 2014.
Just another day at the yard pic.twitter.com/vZtQx29
— Corey Black (@CblackCHC) July 13, 2012
Per the same ESPNChicago.com article, Epstein is very high on Black:
Black, who is starting to open some eyes at Double-A Tennessee this season, went 4-0 at Class A Daytona after the trade, helping the team to the Florida State League championship. Epstein recently saw him pitch five innings of no-hit ball.
"He was 94-96 [mph] with really good life," he said. "We're happy with his development so far."
Black, 22, might end up in the bullpen, although he's starting now.
The trade also opened up room in the outfield for the Cubs and now can get a look at Junior Lake.
Now, some fans may have an issue with losing a pitcher showing some promise like Black, but realistically how many young pitchers work out for the Yankees?
It even looks like Black may end up being a reliever, which is certainly a position worth risking for an impact player like Soriano on a win-now team like the Bronx Bombers. Sori will play a huge role with this year's team as it looks to make the most on its other investments and win a World Series title.
Even if Soriano completely bombs it isn't as though he's a long-term investment.
After the 2014 season, Soriano is a free agent and the Yanks can let him walk if he is no longer producing. If he has another great season, Soriano can be a temporary solution for next season if offense is hard to come by once again since a player of his age will garner a short-term deal.
No matter how you slice it, the Yanks made the right move in dealing for Soriano. He's answered the bell since his return to the pinstripes and he was a low-risk, high-reward player that continues to pay off no matter how little it may have cost the Yankees.
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